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Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Santa Rosa Symphony / Sunday, March 23, 2014
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra. Paul Silverthorne, viola

A TOUR DE FORCE OF SONIC SPLENDOR

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 23, 2014

On paper the Santa Rosa Symphony's March 23 concert in Weill Hall looked promising and even provocative, with a world-premiere concerto, a famous solo violist and two flashy Russian orchestral works. But as often is the case, in unexpected ways the whole was not equal to the sum of the parts.

Behzad Ranjbaran's new viola concerto was written for the Symphony and the eminent British violist, Paul Silverthorne, and closed the concert's first half before 1,200 on yet another balmy Sonoma County Sunday afternoon. Silverthorne, surprisingly playing from score, displayed in the opening Adagio a warm lower register and, for expressive effect, lots of tiny slides into notes. Ranjbaran makes use of a large orchestra, with plentiful interplay of marimba, xylophone, celesta and harp. Flutist Kathleen Lane Reynolds played prominent mellifluous short notes and what sounded like chirps. As a composer, Ranjbaran is a master orchestrator and a canny exploiter of unique tone colors.

In the central Largo movement, the solo part had double stops and virtuoso phrasing in an often sad lament, but as in the first and last movements, Silverthorne could not effectively project above the orchestra's weighty sound. There were no pyrotechnics here, and conductor Bruno Ferrandis shaped the ensemble in music reminiscent of Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony. Muted trumpets and the marimbist Stan Muncy gave the music a somber air. The duo between Silverthorne and violinist Jay Zhong was lively, the two string lines ending the movement in a captivating hush.

Without pause, the concerto was off and running into an Allegro vivace, the playing angry at times and with short snippets of themes. Instead of a conventional symphonic long line, Ranjbaran juxtaposes short melodic statements in many guises. Silverthorne played his viola splendidly but was again outgunned against the orchestral fabric. At the end, Ranjbaran joined Silverthorne and Ferrandis on stage to loud applause.

To open the concert, members of the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra paired with the Symphony in a scrappy and boisterous performance of a chestnut, Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances" from the opera "Prince Igor." There was expert playing by oboe, English horn and harp, and even a piquant sound from the tambourine. As good as dances were, the showpiece of the day was the closing work, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade." Ferrandis, in complete control all afternoon, was at his consummate best in this glorious display of symphonic prowess.

Hardly looking at the score, Ferrandis guided a cacophonous but shapely performance that was a feast for the first-chair players in almost every section. If the Ranjbaran was a concerto for viola, the Rimsky was one for the orchestra. Mention must be made of the glamorous playing from clarinetist Roy Zajac, cellist Adelle-Akiko Kearns, oboist Laura Reynolds, flutists Stacey Pelinka and Ms. Reynolds, hornist Caitlyn Smith, trumpeters Doug Morton and Scott Macomber, timpanist Andrew Lewis, and percussionist Allen Biggs. Concertmaster Zhong's long solo passages, depicting the young Scheherazade, were played in an understated manner and traded power for lyricism, all to a good end.

Rising above this tour de force of sonic splendor was the dominating baton and vision of the conductor. After the final tutti, Ferrandis was liberal in acknowledging the sections and leaders, each getting a roar of audience approval.